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What We Learned: Dolphins-Jaguars


1.There's still a ways to go.We'll start here, because why not start with the obvious? The Jaguars lost 27-13 to the Miami Dolphins at home Sunday, and were down by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. That's not good enough, and it shows that despite playing better in recent weeks there is still much improvement needed. The Jaguars are 1-7 at midseason. That's better than the 0-8 record at the bye last season, but it's not significantly better, so record-wise, there's still a ways to go. OK, that's the obvious. Let's go deeper, because …

2.All is not lost.We may have to duck from quite a few flying objects in this version of What We Learned, because despite the record, despite the score and despite the play of quarterback Blake Bortles there were more positive areas than negatives Sunday. A lot more. The exception was a pretty big exception, though, because …

3.Blake Bortles is struggling.That's the "big exception" we mentioned at the end of No. 2. When the quarterback struggles it overshadows a lot of positives and that's what happened Sunday. Bortles still shows a lot of what you want from a young quarterback, but he struggled Sunday. Big-time.

4.Bortles is still the starter.OK, maybe we didn't learn it, but you're hearing enough questions that maybe it needs to be said. Bortles is the starter for this team. Once you went to him at halftime of Week 3, that was how it was for now and until he's not. He has thrown 12 interceptions in six games. He threw two for touchdowns Sunday. It doesn't matter how often that happens, Bortles is the starter.

5.Bortles' decision-making must improve.Bortles at times on Sunday played OK. He had some clutch third-down conversions early, and you don't move the ball between the 20s as well as the Jaguars did early if the quarterback isn't playing OK. But the Dolphins returned two interceptions for touchdowns on balls that probably shouldn't have been thrown, and Bortles could have slid on a play that turned into a key second-quarter fumble return. Those are rookie plays, and they're normal, but it's hard to win when those plays go against you.

6.Bortles knows he must improve.Bortles' most memorable quote Sunday when speaking to the media: "I'm killing us." That's probably too harsh. There are a lot of things he does that makes the team better, but credit Bortles for his candor. He always has been quick to criticize his own shortcomings, and he above anyone else knows he must improve.

7.Allen Robinson is progressing.The rookie second-round wide receiver is solidifying himself as a starter, and he's earning it as he goes. Five catches for 82 yards on Sunday. Thirty-nine receptions for 453 yards and two touchdowns for the season. A knack for making catches in tight coverage. He's not as good as he's going to be next season, but he's showing the traits that will make him good next season. That's what you want from a rookie.

8.This defense is legitimate.This was not a bad Miami team. The Dolphins entered the game fourth in the NFL in rushing, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill had been efficient in recent weeks. The Jaguars' defense held the Dolphins without a first down until the final drive of the first half. This was a winning effort from the defense, its fourth in as many games.

9.Sen'Derrick Marks is good.This was true last season. It has been true this season. He's good. Period.

10.Ryan Davis is good.This was true last season, though he only played half the season. It has been true this season, and was true again Sunday when he played a more extensive role in the absence of Andre Branch. He had two sacks Sunday. He now has four sacks this season. Maybe it's not news anymore.

11.The defensive line is good.We already covered Davis and Marks, but we could just go down the list. The Jaguars had three more sacks Sunday. That's 25 on the season. That's not a fluke. The area that has been an issue for so long is now a legitimate strength.

12.Field goal block is an issue.The Jaguars have had three field goals blocked this season. Not acceptable.

13.Toby Gerhart and Marqise Lee are struggling.The veteran running back and rookie wide receiver have had their struggles in the first half of the season. Health issues have led to more stops and starts than either would have liked. It's not too late and the stories of their seasons aren't written, but the beginning has been rougher for both than expected.

14.Denard Robinson is the starter at running back.The second-year veteran has started the last two games and rushed for more than 100 yards each time. He has run harder, with more authority and more consistently than most imagined possible. The Jaguars haven't officially named him the starter, but if there's a No. 1 running back on the Jaguars, Robinson is very much it. Give him credit. Few thought that would happen, and he absolutely earned it.

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